New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA embraces modern elements of the style without sacrificing a reasonable price tag. Bright, juicy flavors of tropical fruit are balanced by floral, resinous hops that result in an incredibly easy-drinking beer—especially considering its hefty ABV.
Style imperial IPA
Company New Belgium Brewing Company
Brewery Location Fort Collins, Colorado, and Asheville, North Carolina
MSRP $12 per 6-pack
A well-priced double IPA that will likely satisfy fans of the style
Juicy, balanced, and easy-drinking
A bright, clean mouthfeel with lively carbonation
More affordable than other beers in the category
Bitterness may be off-putting to fans of more modern IPAs.
High alcohol content may be overpowering for some.
Die-hard IPA fans may consider it too simplistic.
Color: This beer pours crystal clear with a rich golden hue that’s just short of amber, developing a thick, rich, lingering head of foam that laces the inside of the glass as it’s sipped.
Nose: The nose is relatively restrained for the style, featuring notes of crushed pine needles and freshly sliced melon. Floral and fruity notes are followed by hints of maltiness on the back end.
Palate: Bright, juicy tropical fruit flavors typical of the style are upfront and center on the palate with notes of grapefruit, spruce, and freshly picked hops. Lively carbonation prevents the bitterness from overpowering the palate and belies the beer’s strong 9% ABV.
Finish: A malty sweetness develops beneath flavors of citrus zest on the finish that makes this a uniquely well-balanced beer for the style. Bright carbonation energizes the tongue long after each sip while an alcoholic warmth graces the throat, making this brew surprisingly drinkable compared to other beers of its strength and style.
For some, it’s hard to imagine the American craft beer boom taking place without the contributions of New Belgium Brewing Company. After opening in 1991, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based brewery quickly established a devoted fan base thanks to its Fat Tire Vienna-style lager. Co-founders Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch managed to survive the great die-off of many first-wave craft breweries by popularizing relatively unique beer styles that were inspired by a bike trip through Belgium, including a pioneering and award-winning barrel-aged sour program. In 2016, the growing brewery expanded with a North Carolina production facility to help meet demand in new markets, and to the shock of many craft beer purists, the Japan-based Kirin group acquired the company three years later, pushing its distribution to all 50 states and dozens of countries worldwide.
The brewery launched its popular Voodoo Ranger IPA lineup before it was snatched up by the global conglomerate, however, which has helped the brand stay true to its innovative roots. The nimble subcategory allows for seasonal releases and some experimentation that stand apart from the company’s famous original offerings. As the year-round double IPA of the group, Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA offers up a modern take on a previously alienating style by embracing the flavors and aromas many drinkers now seek.
Like the regular-strength IPA in the Voodoo Ranger lineup, this imperial version stands out as a particularly bright, juicy, and tropical option—which is no easy feat for a widely available beer. A hop-heavy bill including Delta, Bravo, Centennial, Cascade, Calypso, and Mosaic gives the beer a style-defining pine-needle dankness while a vibrant effervescence buoys flavors of fresh grapefruit, pineapple, and melon. The brew may not have the now-coveted hazy appearance of New England-style IPAs, but it still drenches the palate in a pleasingly balanced sea of flavors and boasts a remarkably crisp finish. It’s also refreshingly devoid of the grassy greenness or hop burn that many cloudy craft options often carry.
Then there’s the matter of cost. At $12 per six-pack, this beer falls well under the average price point for this style without sacrificing much flavor. The relatively high 9% ABV may be typical for the style, but it’s also incredibly well integrated into the flavor profile: Make sure to serve this easy-drinking beer with the caveat that it packs more of a punch than its flavor might suggest.
The beer’s bright flavor profile and higher ABV also make it a perfect pairing option for plenty of foods. As a replacement for wine, it can help enhance the brightness in dishes like salads, ceviche, pizza, and paella. The array of flavors and unique juiciness make it well equipped to handle complex meals, too.
Ideally, this brew would be a safe bet when you’re looking for the familiar brightness of a double IPA while shopping in an unfamiliar beer aisle. But as with any beer of this style, the experience depends entirely upon its freshness. Make sure to check each package for its “best by” date—which, to New Belgium’s credit, is printed on cans and bottles in a clear and easy-to-read way.
Long touted as one of the most coveted places to work in the beer industry, New Belgium still treats its employees to some unique perks. Workers can look forward to a bicycle on their first-year anniversary and a week-long trip to Belgium after they’ve spent five years with the company.